A quick and absorbing combination of swashbuckling, steampunk, and supernatural mystery.

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THE BOY WHO WENT MAGIC

An orphan boy is swept up in an adventure with magic and pirates.

Bert Rumsey is teased for his interest in adventure and magic by other children in the boarding school where a mysterious man in a cloak left him as a small child. A school visit to a museum devoted to a kind of revisionist history—meant to affirm the government of Penvellyn’s position that magic never really existed—sets off a chain of events that has Bert fleeing for his life, beset by a wound that connects him to both a magical power and a magical spirit. Professor Roberts, a former explorer–turned-pirate, and his daughter, Finch, help Bert to escape the clutches of Prince Voss, whose hunger for power has taken him into a dark, forbidden study of magic. Debut author Winter moves the characters somewhat breathlessly from one dramatic moment to the next while carefully reserving a few surprises about Bert’s relationships that add poignancy and depth to the narrative as they are revealed. Cinematic action scenes include a fight atop a train being lifted by cables up a mountain and a battle between airships along with some swordplay and hand-to-hand combat. A reanimated army of creepy skeletons in the shell of a wrecked airship ups the spooky element. The book seems to subscribe to the white default.

A quick and absorbing combination of swashbuckling, steampunk, and supernatural mystery. (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-21714-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Chicken House/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TERRIFYING RETURN OF TIPPY TINKLETROUSERS

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

Sure signs that the creative wells are running dry at last, the Captain’s ninth, overstuffed outing both recycles a villain (see Book 4) and offers trendy anti-bullying wish fulfillment.

Not that there aren’t pranks and envelope-pushing quips aplenty. To start, in an alternate ending to the previous episode, Principal Krupp ends up in prison (“…a lot like being a student at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School, except that the prison had better funding”). There, he witnesses fellow inmate Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) escape in a giant Robo-Suit (later reduced to time-traveling trousers). The villain sets off after George and Harold, who are in juvie (“not much different from our old school…except that they have library books here.”). Cut to five years previous, in a prequel to the whole series. George and Harold link up in kindergarten to reduce a quartet of vicious bullies to giggling insanity with a relentless series of pranks involving shaving cream, spiders, effeminate spoof text messages and friendship bracelets. Pilkey tucks both topical jokes and bathroom humor into the cartoon art, and ups the narrative’s lexical ante with terms like “pharmaceuticals” and “theatrical flair.” Unfortunately, the bullies’ sad fates force Krupp to resign, so he’s not around to save the Earth from being destroyed later on by Talking Toilets and other invaders…

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-17534-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...

TUCK EVERLASTING

At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975

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